Calling all bookworms! Nothing quite compares to a great read, does it? The feeling of holding a new book in your hands or of closing the back cover after taking a journey through its pages is one of life’s simplest pleasures.

Reading can also be a healthy activity—engaging your imagination, teaching your brain and even calling to your soul. With countless books out there to choose from, sometimes it’s hard to decide which spine to crack open next. So, we asked our staff to recommend books to help us grow in spirit, mind and body. If you’re looking for good reads this spring, check out the titles below.

Books for the body

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

This book encouraged Heidi Byron, a personal trainer at the Margaret Maddox Y, to run her first marathon. “This book is very inspirational. It’s about the history of running, the incredible impact of athleticism on the human body, and what running means to people all over the world," she says. "It really shows you what humans are capable of and encouraged me to consider how amazing the human body and spirit are.”

Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle by Michelle May, M.D.

This read comes highly recommended from the Y’s registered dietitian nutritionist, Lindsey Joe. “Ditching diets can be scary, but we know that diets just don't work when it comes to long-term healthy eating,” she says. “This read by Dr. May (a recovered yo-yo dieter) will help guide you on how to reconnect with your body's wants and needs and overcome emotional eating. If you're ready to start enjoying food again and stop depriving yourself, give it a read.”

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan

Elizabeth Hughes, the Y's director of healthy living initiatives, highly recommends this one. “I love Food Rules because he [Pollan] lays out very simple rules about how we should be eating,” she says. “His rules are not super scientific, but are easy to follow to help you know what you should eat. And one of the coolest things about Michael Pollan is that he is a nutrition expert by trade, not by education (a.k.a. he is not a registered dietitian).”

Books for the mind

The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer by Andy Andrews

These two books are the all-time favorites of our accounts payable coordinator and avid reader, Sherri Montgomery. She says, “The Traveler’s Gift is about the decisions that you make and the consequences of those decisions in your life. The Noticer is about noticing the good things in life even when you are going through difficult things. Both are about thinking about your decisions and your words in life.”

Momentum for Life: Biblical Practices for Sustaining Physical Health, Personal Integrity, and Strategic Focus by Michael Slaughter

YMCA Black Achievers program director, Joshua Love, recommended this as one of his favorite leadership books. The publisher says, "Pastor Michael Slaughter calls all aspiring leaders to a life of faith, balance, and purpose. Operating on the principle that all leadership begins with self-leadership, the book outlines five crucial disciplines."

Books for the spirit

Prayers that Prevail by Victory House

Susan Cress, our spirit-mind ministries field specialist, says this book had a profound influence on her spiritual growth. “There was a time in my Christian walk when I struggled with praying,” she shared. “My mind would wander, or even worse, it would go blank, and I felt like I never was able to completely convey to God what was on my heart. This book helped me learn how to pray effectively. It taught me how to pray God’s word while being in line with His will and purposes. The prayers are for specific situations that we all face sometime in our lives and they are powerful.”

Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices That Can Transform Your Life and Relationships by Curt Thompson, M.D.

Dr. Chuck Frazier, director of spiritual development at Bellevue Family YMCA, recommends this as a great book. The publisher says, "Dr. Thompson reveals how it is possible to rewire your mind, altering your brain patterns and literally making you more like the person God intended you to be. ...He also provides practical exercises to help you experience healing in areas where you’ve been struggling."

Journey to Freedom by Scott Reall

Ed Barron, our regional training director, says this read comes to mind first when thinking of strengthening people in spirit, mind and body. “This book is used by small groups within the Y’s Spirit and Mind Ministries. By design, the book is to be read as part of a small group, and (while not recommended) it could be done alone,” he says. View all small group offerings.

Thrive with the Y

We're here to help our community grow stronger together, whether it's through reading, exercising or eating healthy. Find more information on YMCA health and fitness programs offered at a center near you!